Center of Hope volunteers honored by VOADec 6, 2015 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer
Staff members at Riverton's Center of Hope and at Volunteers of America - Northern Rockies were recognized for their work during an awards ceremony Nov. 18 in Sheridan.
The City of Hope in Riverton offers social detoxification, transitional living, close observation and several other services to clients.
It merged with the VOA in 2013.
Helen Warpness, a member of the VOA board of directors, received the outstanding volunteer award during the convention.
She previously served for 10 years as a member of the City of Hope board of directors when the facility was called the Fremont County Alcohol Crisis Center.
After the merger with VOA, Warpness was asked to continue her service under a new board.
"It was a real surprise to me but a recognition for the work," Warpness said. "VOA is really an outstanding organization that is helping people."
Warpness said since the merger, services at City of Hope have improved. She said people can be wary of the center, but she and others have worked diligently to gain support from the community soon after the merger.
"I'm basically a cheerleader for the Center of Hope," Warpness said. "We are changing lives in Fremont County."
More than 100 people have gone on to treatment since the merger, she noted.
After a deadly shooting that took the life of one client in July, Warpness said people have also stepped up and supported the center.
The City of Hope held an "empty bowl" fundraiser again this year, garnering almost twice as many donations as last year. Warp-ness said the staff works hard to help people who often reject assistance, or who need direction in their lives.
She praised the staff from the center.
"I think people are aware of the hard work that is being done down there," she said. "They are more aware of the center and the work that is going on."
Jeff Holsinger, president and CEO of the VOA, said Warpness has worked tirelessly to be an advocate for those without a voice or a safe place to sleep.
"Helen's advocacy during those years undoubtedly saved countless lives," he said, adding that she "played a leading role in the successful launch" of the empty bowl fundraiser.
Holsinger said Warpness wears her "heart on her sleeve" and has always made it a priority to attend all board meetings. She also has worked with City of Hope program director Shelley Mbonu, speaking before several local organizations in the county to make the community aware of the facility's services and successes.
Mbonu also received recognition in the form of the outstanding leadership award. Kelly Buckingham, the clinical division director at the City of Hope, said Mbonu demonstrates a "strong work ethic and is a leader who is not afraid to jump in and help out staff and work in the trenches."
"Shelley has strong leadership skills that help motivate her staff at all times and during all situations," Buckingham said.
"Shelley embodies the mission and value of the organization, and I look forward to seeing Shelley's continued growth."
Outstanding staff awards were given to Barbara Beebe, Rebecca Alexander and Tiffany Velarde. Beebe is a service coordinator at the City of Hope.
Mbonu said Beebe has shown great dedication and determination to provide quality service to clients.
"She is a natural leader that has worked in different positions within VOA," Mbonu said.
Alexander is an administrative assistant who was recognized for her efforts to make tasks easier for others.
"She will often go out of her way to assist clients with needs, such as getting ID's (and) setting up a bank account, or point them in the right direction with court-related documents," Mbonu noted.
The two-day event welcomed more than 80 staff members from programs in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota.